This week, in honour of the publication of his new book A Serious Call, we’re honoring award-winning author Don Coles.
Who is Don Coles?
- A Toronto-based poet and novelist.
- He published his first book of poetry at age 47.
- He spent ten years as Senior Poetry Editor at the Banff Centre for the Arts
- His claim to fame is his award-winning poetry: Forests of the Medieval World won the Governor General’s Award in 1993, and Kurgan won the Trillium Book Award in 2000.
- He was never a fan of the modernist poets, preferring instead to look to what he has termed the ‘Hardy-Larkin line’—referring to those poets able to make their work accessible to the general reader.
What has he worked on?
- Several early poetry collections.
- A number of books of poetry as well as a book of criticism with Signal Editions.
- A translation of the work of Swedish writer Tomas Tranströmer For the Living and the Dead, which won the John Glassco Translation Prize in 1997
- A novel, Doctor Bloom’s Story, published by Knopf Canada
- With the Porcupine’s Quill:
What are people saying about him?
- “All those things which we require of poetry—intelligence, illumination, pleasure in the placing of one surprising word beside another, sudden unexpected deepenings, and moments when a line is taken almost, but not quite, to the point of fragmentation—all these are present in Don Coles.” —Carol Shields
- “I can think of few things better than a comfortable chair, several free hours, and a new collection of Don Coles’ poetry. The expectation and ultimate fulfillment, the challenges, demands, delights and rewards, are, for me, both different and more satisfying than those provided by the work of any other poet now writing in Canada.” —Christopher Wiseman, Malahat Review
- “Coles’ art is all deftness and understatement, never trying too hard, no flourishes till the end” —Richard Sanger, Globe & Mail
Where can I read more of his work?
- A selection of poems is published on Canadian Poetry Online.
- We (of course) recommend The Essential Don Coles as an excellent primer for his work.
What should I read next?
- Leon Rooke’s poetry in The April Poems has a similar wit and casual flair.
- Read more top poetry (as chosen by Publisher Tim Inkster) here.
Where can I get general information about Don Coles?
- The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Canadian Poetry Online
- York University Archives (Inventory of fonds)
A Serious Call is available now, and let me tell you, it is fabulous. Coles somehow allows you to escape your consciousness while simultaneously helping you to better understand it.